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Parks Department To Rebuild Sections Of Rockaway Beach Boardwalk

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TWC News: Parks Department To Rebuild Sections Of Rockaway Beach Boardwalk
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Crews are working to restore the Rockaway Beach boardwalk in Queens after most of it was destroyed by Hurricane Sandy, but only sections of the five-mile boardwalk are expected to be open in time by summer. NY1's Roger Clark filed the following report.

It's hard to believe there was once a boardwalk at Beach 92nd Street in Rockaway Beach, Queens. Hurricane Sandy destroyed most of the five-mile stretch, with mainly the concrete portions surviving the storm, looking like some beach-front Stonehenge. The wood portions were wrecked or washed away.

"It's lots of destruction, a lot of planning up what to do next," said Jill Weber, a Rockaway Park administrator.

The city Department of Parks and Recreation just spent nearly $4 million fixing damage to the boardwalk from Hurricane Irene in 2011. Then Sandy came through, and now parks officials have to start again from scratch.

"We're in the process of removing all of the damaged sections, evaluating those areas that we believe we could salvage in some way or form, and then start discussing the rebuilding process," said Queens Parks Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski.

The worst damage occurred in the most widely used sections. And though it seems far away, parks officials are already looking at how to accommodate the millions expected to visit when summer rolls around.

"We do have our three primary concession buildings on this western edge, at 86th, 97th and 106th Street. We had really good programming this summer, so we are looking at possibly building an apron of boardwalk around those facilities," said Lewandowski.

The commissioner said the department cannot do a full reconstruction by next summer, and there is no estimate of what it will cost.

She said parks officials will discuss the long-term situation with elected officials and the community, including whether to use concrete or wood for a future boardwalk.

Some residents said before the boardwalk is rebuilt, the shoreline needs better protection.

"You have to put in rock jetties, because that's what holds the sand in. That's our first line of defense," said John Cori of Friends of Rockaway Beach. "And then the boardwalk should be rebuilt as a barrier, a huge concrete barrier or a very high walkway like they do in Florida or along other parts of the East Coast."

As residents deal with their homes and cars that were destroyed, many found the destruction of the boardwalk to be heartbreaking.

"After the storm I came up here and cried like a baby," said Eddy Pastore of Friends of Rockaway Beach.

Friends of Rockaway Beach will hold a rally at 1 p.m. Sunday, when they will talk more about their hopes for the future of the beach and the boardwalk.

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